Australian chart-topper Guy Sebastian today backed a new $250 million arts industry support package, which some critics believe is far too little, far too late.
Sebastian appeared alongside Prime Minister Scott Morrison at Sydney venue West HQ this morning as the Federal Government unveiled its “JobMaker” scheme.
The plan is set to funnel money into Australia’s performing arts industry, which has been absolutely hammered by the coronavirus pandemic.
The Government has pledged to back $90 million in bank loans for new productions, plus $75 million in grants to help arts companies and festival organisers throw events as Australia exits lockdown mode.
In addition, $50 million has been earmarked for film and television productions sidelined by the pandemic. Direct financial assistance totalling $35 million will be made available to Commonwealth-funded organisations.
“If we didn’t have this, we’d have so many highly skilled people who’d go to other places and other sectors, and we’d lose them,” Sebastian said.
“It’d be so incredibly hard to rebuild this wonderful arts culture that we have here.”
While Sebastian expressed his support – the Australian Idol winner even took part in a video conference with other industry stakeholders to help shape the package – the Media, Entertainment & Arts Alliance (MEAA) says the government should provide immediate financial assistance to freelance and casual arts workers barred from existing support payments.
“While any form of assistance is welcome, this package is another slap in the face for the thousands of arts and entertainment workers who are not eligible for the JobKeeper income subsidy scheme,” said MEAA Chief Executive Paul Murphy.
Greens Senator Sarah Hanson-Young said it didn’t make sense to pledge $250 million to a sector worth $112 billion to the Australian economy, when a $700 million stimulus package has been directed towards homeowners looking to renovate their properties.
“More Australians have lost their jobs in the creative industries due to COVID than those in building and construction; however Scott Morrison has given the building industry more than double the support,” she said.
The singer has not escaped ire, either. Dr David Caldicott, who has led pill-testing trials at Canberra’s Groovin The Moo music festival, referenced another Australian reality TV star roped into the Morrison Government ecosystem:
Guy Sebastian is the now the Scott Cam of the music world.
— David Caldicott (@ACTINOSProject) June 25, 2020
Other folks have used the opportunity to question Sebastian’s involvement in today’s announcement.
I think for me it is more that using Guy Sebastian highlights yet again that the PM has a lack of understanding about what the Arts Sector actually is and who it involves at EVERY level. It’s not just the big stuff. #auspol
— Butterflyrocket (@Butterflyrocket) June 25, 2020
You can watch the announcement below.